Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to Reality...

I went from hotter than hell, sweaty mess in San Antonio to a downright chilly Chicago. I wore a jacket the past two days being back. The A/C is shut off and I'm enjoying the breeze coming through the windows. After 12 days in a row of 100+ and/or humidity through the roof, I am living it up. And I want to go back to Texas to live some day? I just have to keep reminding myself that in a few short weeks, we could have snow up here. And snow does not allow for cute shoe wearing. Unless they are relatively disposable and you can deal with the fact that you'll have frozen nubs for feet all night.

This morning I filed for funemployment insurance! Wow. Semi-depressing, actually.

I'll probably spend an hour packing up everything that I used to wear to work for transport to the basement. Lovely things that I very lovingly referred to as the polyester prison. Thank goodness it never got very hot this summer because those dresses are WRETCHED, think navy blue striped potato sack that does not look good on anyone unless they are wearing a "nearly A" cup bra that they are having trouble filling out. And I ripped my pants in the bum (I like to think that this was just because of the way they were made-think 80's mom pants, complete with pleats-and not my recent weight gain). I would have had to actually pay for new pants since I have about $4 left in my uniform alotment for the year and one cannot survive the Chicago winter without at least one functioning pair of work pants. The day I split my pants was actually quite funny, there was so much extra fabric in the crotchital area that you couldn't even tell I'd split them, that's how brutally ugly and utterly out of style they are/were. Thank goodness, as I didn't want to moon the entire airplane with my ripped lovlies. I was bending down to put something in one of the carts in the galley and when I heard the infamous sound of seams tearing apart, I couldn't help but crack up.

Also on my September to do list (because old habits die hard and today is actually the first day of the flight attendant calendar month of September, despite the fact that it is really August 31):
  • find a new gym (have been putting this off for waaaay too long)
  • find a job... haha!
  • wrap up that fabulous marathon training and do some runs with my groups
  • schedule engagement picture session (before that aforementioned freezing cold weather and snow starts)
  • find out if Filene's is doing a "Running of the Brides" dress sale
  • enjoy my trips to Virginia Beach and the Tennessee Mountains, we are busy little beavers!
  • start my detox program in relation to my recent trip home, I probably ate about 25-30 bean and cheese tacos, countless other Mexican food goodies, insane quantities of fried foods and way too many beers to count- I loved it but gosh, I get unhealthy when I go home
  • buy myself a new suitcase for said trips out of town since my United-issued one has pieces of metal hanging out of parts of it, the poor bag has seen it's better days... big time!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sheer Exhaustion...

So far I have:

the date
the church
the reception venue
the photographer
the caterer
the surprise details worked out

working on:

the hotels for out-of-towners
the potential rehearsal dinner stuff for Adam's fam
the Chicago photog for engagements
the contracts and legal jargon for all of said items

I think it all hit me today that my brain hurts. I have 18 miles in the morning to process all of this stuff and I get to jet off to cooler temperatures and my upcoming job and new gym search on Saturday. No more wedding stuff for awhile, phew!! It's been a whirlwind but it's been fun.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Gone fishin...

Will be back soon!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

This post is brought to you by all the homeless people that live in California... that tried to extort money from me today.

I'm coming to you live from Sacramento, CA. Luckily the crew desk gods smiled down on me and gave me a decent send-off trip. We had a super long day yesterday but I got to visit my old stomping grounds, IAD, otherwise known as Washington Dulles International Airport. Rather fitting, I think. Also, my last segment is a deadhead (aka, sitting in a passenger seat) home from Philly so I brought clothes to change into so I can actually enjoy it (read: have a glass of wine).

I stopped at Subway at Dulles last night and they had the most adorable little man working there. He was doing the veggies and sauce part of the "sandwich artistry" and he had the cutest coke bottle glasses in the world. He was so tiny that I almost wanted to pack him up and bring him along with me to Sacramento. It reminded me of my lady-crush who works at the Quizno's at the Vegas airport and I want to tell you about her and recommend the experience.

The first time I ever got a sandwich there was kind of a big deal. My good pal Sally and I were potentially food-poisoned by the College Station Quizno's so since then, I haven't really been keen on their sandwiches. I can't remember if I didn't have any time that day or what the deal was but I decided to try it. I'm so happy that I did! The woman working the cash register was this darling of an older Asian woman and she called everyone "Huneeeeey" and was seriously the most amazing cashier known to man. She could figure out your total (even with airport employee discount) before she'd even finish the last person's credit card slip. It became a religious experience for me to visit her and something you'd have to see in person (or see my imitation of her). The last time I was in Vegas must have been her day off and I knew it before I even saw the employees by the gigantor line that had formed. It's not that they were extra busy or anything, it's because my lady crush wasn't there rocking out the register. The last time I saw her, I asked for no onions on my sandwich. While pulling out the previous person's receipt and punching my order on the register, she looked at me deadpan and said, "You want extra onions, huneeeeey?" with a wink. Supersonic speed and a sense of humor? Love it.

I will miss her and so many other various things about flying but I am also looking forward to new possibilities.

Ciao, United (for now... maybe).

Running Log: 7 miles, all on the treadmill. Never thought I'd be able to do that!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Testing my patience and my semi-job search...

I'm so close to being done with flying (for now?) that I can almost taste it. I'm more excited than I thought I'd be, maybe because I have so many other things occupying my mind right now... Nah, it's probably because it's summer and to be honest summer flying is a complete test of one's patience.

We recently started offering these insane menu items on our flights to the West Coast, which is nice to a point. The food is the best stuff I've ever seen on board (or tasted... shhhh) but there is just so darn much of it! I usually volunteer to set up the galley and it's a serious project to try to fit three types of salad, three types of sandwhiches, four different snackboxes, smoothies, Vitamin Water, Lay's Stacks, cookies, Toblerone bars, Clif bars, Odwalla bars, ug... am I forgetting something, all onto one cart. It's a SERIOUS amount of food. And when you consider that no one reads menus or listens to announcements, it wears me out a little bit to run through the items list with 158 people over and over. But yeah, the food is good (personally, I recommend the Caprese Sandwhich. It has these insanely good roasted tomatoes on it. Mouth watering just thinking about it).

Yeah... I'm looking forward to a little break from this. I'm not sure what will be around when I return (if anything? United? UniCon? ConU? Lufthansa USA?).

I've been talking with families in my area about potential nanny jobs. Some people have acted all surprised about this development but I just want to remind the world that I don't dislike kids (especially when they aren't in large groups). I baby-sat from pretty much the day I turned 13, used to summer nanny for a great family in my neighborhood and most recently, I substituted at the after school program in my county in Virginia. I get along fine with kids, mostly because I don't treat them like morons. Just the other night, when I was sitting down with some potential nanny employers, we were talking about the stimulus that babies get and how they absorb so much more than what people give them credit for. I completely feel that way. Most people have trouble grasping the fact that babies and small children are smart! I can't tell you how many parents I've seen act a fool in front of their kids (i.e. screaming and yelling because your stroller didn't appear on the jetbridge according to your time schedule) and then they wonder why their kids throw regular hissy fits and act generally bratty. Uh... hello! It's probably because they saw their parents throw a temper tantrum and therefore think that is an acceptable way to behave.

But I digress, the point is that I can make more money nannying for a 4 month old baby than I do hawking 900 food items to 158 people in the back of a 757 so that is my real motivation. Like I've said before, this is a straight up gift that I have been handed to keep my medical benefits and basically do what I want. It's been really fun exploring my options so far and I have a feeling that something that is a perfect fit for me will find it's way into my life, like pretty much every other opportunity I've had so far.

Running Log: 14 miles yesterday (NEW WORLD RECORD!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ok... all you robbers SUCK!

There have been a ton of robberies at gunpoint lately in the general vicinity of where we live. I've always assumed the area to be relatively safe, when you consider we live in a huge city with an off the charts crime rate. Especially now that it's summer, it seems like someone is always outside walking a dog, jogging, etc. but a lot of the robberies were taking place on weeknights between 2-4 a.m. in Lincoln Park, which is a little bit south of where we are. I wasn't overly concerned until Monday night, when a young guy got robbed about a block away from us at gunpoint at 9:30 p.m.! It amazes me that no one else was around but we do live in a nice section of quiet streets right off of some main streets. We were sitting in our living room then completely oblivious. Most of the time it's people that are by themselves so we're trying to be a little more cautious after dark to stay together.

What that means for me: no more buses to and from work if it's after dark (or before sunrise, which is actually more common, grr). I got royally screwed by the crew desk last night and was made to stay at the airport for no reason until almost midnight (oh how I love being "owned" by United Airlines 24 hours a day when I'm on call). Luckily, I was able to hop into a cab pretty soon after getting off the train and he was nice enough to make sure I got inside and Adam came out of the condo to meet me since it was almost 1 a.m.

It really sucks because I like walking around my neighborhood. I don't like living in fear. It's not cool to wake up literally every morning to the newscasters reporting yet another robbery in the area. My first thought was that the economy is causing people to lose their jobs and they are getting desperate (but maybe they should use that money they used to buy a gun on food or what not... let's get logical here). But they arrested four teenagers in connection with some of the robberies so maybe it's just the dog days of summer and the hooligans are getting bored and my theory might be bunk. Maybe it's a giant conspiracy by the cabbies of the Northside to drum up business? Who knows but I hope it stops. I don't want the last few precious days of our summer to be ruined by a bunch of jerks!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Zooperstars did not disappoint

Alligator Rodriguez, Monkey Williams, Harry Canary and Ken Giraffy, Jr.

It was the hottest day of the year but we had a blast!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Bad Run...

The other day I got to cross off the exact halfway point of my training for the marathon! WOO HOO! This week marks another big milestone for me. So far, the longest I've ever run is 13.1 miles (a half marathon) but my long run this week is 14 miles. Each long run that I have for the next three weeks will be a new "longest run ever" for me. I'm more excited about it than dreading it. I enjoy my long runs more than I thought I would because I feel so accomplished at the end. It's all the shorter runs that test my patience.

Case in point: Saturday's run. Most marathon training programs follow a schedule of three weeks of increasing mileage before a lower mileage week to allow the body to recover a little bit. My low mileage week was last week and I only needed to do an eight miler as my long run. Since Adam signed up to run the VB Half with Bazan, Amy and I over Labor Day weekend, he decided to come with me. I assumed he'd only run a couple of miles and then turn around to go home but he was determined to run the whole thing.

Here's where we made our crucial error. It was hotter than hell in Chicago this weekend and about 110% humidity. When you walked outside, it was just like stepping into the sauna at the gym. Disclaimer: I realize you Texans have been dealing with this for, what, 2 months now? But you have to realize that here we've been having one of the coolest summers on record and part of heat (or cold) is your body's ability to tolerate it. My heat tolerance is pretty low right now.

We piddled around all morning, mostly playing on Facebook (idiots!) so we didn't actually get outside until almost 1 p.m. At the beginning, I felt awesome. I was so pumped to be running and to have a running buddy until the wheels fell off a little bit after mile 2. The beginning and end of our run was really nice because we were in the shade but there was a huge section in the middle where we left the park and hit the lakefront path and the sun was just beating down on us. I have never been so sweaty. I sat down at one point and my legs were even soaked. Everyone on the trail was running so slowly because the weather was truly stifling.

Running for me is defined by my ability on that given day to control my breathing. In case you didn't know or don't remember, I never used to do the required running in high school because I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma. Luckily, I had an awesome step aerobics teacher in college at Galveston that pushed us to run and my roomie, Katy, and several of our friends started running so we'd pass our fitness tests for the class. At the time, didn't 1.5 miles feel so long? Hilarious. I don't know if I outgrew it but I haven't had an asthma attack in about 5 years and I don't even keep an inhaler around anymore. I know my own limits, meaning that I will probably never be an 8 minute miler, but I'm satisfied with my personal progress.

Back to Saturday, with the sun on my back (that felt like a million pounds of weight) and the humidity, I completely lost the ability to take a deep breath. It was awful. We had to sit down for probably 20 minutes until I felt like I'd be able to go again. I was totally embarrassed because Adam was with me and he was relatively fine. But after some rest and a mini-pep talk, we were ready to hit the trail again.

I was reading another blog the other day and one of the girls that contributes is also training for a marathon. She had a similar experience when trying to do her 16 miler on a treadmill (which is a feat in itself... running on a treadmill is hard and BORING) where she broke down in the middle of the run and started crying. The part that got me was that she got up and finished her run. I think that the innate ability that she had to keep going when she thought she couldn't is what will give her the last little bit of umph to finish the 26.2. I felt exactly like that when I was running on Saturday. I had to dig deep and remember that my end goal was to be able to check off the space in my training program for this 8 mile run. "Bad" runs are just as important in a training program as all of the good ones because you have to learn to persevere and turn off the things in your mind that are telling you to stop.

Oh and by the way... once we got back in the shade toward the end of our run, I was able to find my groove again and I was able to beat Adam to our finish line. I had to show that I've been training so hard, didn't I?

Running Log: Saturday- 8 miles, Today- 4 miles

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wedding Mania

Long before we got engaged, Adam and I have been talking about weddings for a LOOOOONG time (including our own, we're open and honest like that). But in this first year of dating we've been to a HUGE number of weddings. We've been guests, we've been in them, we've traveled to various places, we've been to weddings in Chicago. I've seen every color of the rainbow used and actually met some of the brides and grooms for the first time at their weddings. It's been good times and I've absolutely loved it.
Probably my favorite thing about weddings is that you can totally see a little bit of the couple in every detail at their event. I've been to probably 50 weddings in my life and all of them were so different and unique. I have lots of inspiration to create our own special day.

Without further ado, a couple of pictures from our two July weddings (and the last ones we have until 2010... I think).

Dave and Emily's wedding: The wedding was gorgeous and right up my alley since they had it at the Chicago History Museum. SO COOL! I need to go back soon, the museum looked awesome.

The bride, Emily, went to Virginia Tech so we know them from football game watching at the Crossroads Bar.

The Hokies with the bride and groom.
Beth and Paul's wedding: Beth is also another Hokie and they play on Adam's Thursday night volleyball team. The wedding was at a really pretty Catholic Church downtown and the reception was at the Holiday Inn at the Merchandise Mart. Check out the awesome view of the Chicago River!

It was a beautiful Chicago day. Wow... I looked sunburned but I don't think I was!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Girls Next Door

One of my most random guilty pleasures used to be that show, The Girls Next Door, with Hugh Hefner and his ex-girlfriends. I don't know why I liked it because it pretty much goes against almost everything I stand for.

Yesterday, I was flipping channels and one of his exes has her own show now on the E! Channel. The episode I caught a few minutes of was where she went to the Playboy Mansion with her fiance and his parents. Hef already has three new girlfriends and I think they are all about 19 years old. I am always amazed that seemingly normal people (aka the fiance's parents) can go to the Mansion and be relatively ok with the atmosphere. For goodness sake people! Their son is marrying some chick that was one of Hugh Hefner's three girlfriends for FIVE YEARS! They find that ok and/or acceptable? Weird.

Now we've moved on to a new episode of Kendra and she's trying to throw a dinner party for her NFL husband and some of his teammates. OMG... she has no idea how to cook or throw a dinner party. Looks like my guilty pleasure is OVER. (unless I find whatever channel Bridget's Beaches is on)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I Pinky Swear...

I promise I'm not going to turn this bad boy into a wedding planning blog, although I have a feeling that some of the trials and tribulations (at least the funny stuff) will make it's way here. What else am I going to write about when I'm done flying to entertain you? It's easy to write about work when you are fairly anonymous but I have a feeling that I won't be in my next job.

Anyhoo... it's been a big week! What was it about Monday night? Adam proposed to me at Millenium Park AND a good friend of mine also got engaged. Crazy since it was such a random day.

Our story is very US and more perfect than I could have imagined. We met at his office downtown after work, which is a fairly normal practice for us. I was sort of thrown for two reasons.
1. it was Monday and I wasn't really expecting it on a work night
2. I had this feeling that he'd ask at a rooftop bar at one of the swanky hotels and he immediately said he wanted to eat at the Park Grill Cafe, which is where the ice skating rink is in the winter over at Millenium Park

Here's where I have my huge brain fart. Seriously, Jen! Millenium Park is one of the most special places to us! I have been wanting to take our engagement pictures there. How did I never think of that as a potential for him asking?

Nevertheless, we had a really great dinner outside and the whole time it kind of felt like we were cheating the system since the weather was awesome and it was supposed to be raining. Afterward, he asked if I wanted to go to a bar that a friend of his works at for a drink or go for a walk. I opted for walk around the park because I was pretty full (probably from all the chips and salsa I ate, haha). (He was freaking out that there were still too many people around.) Lucky for Adam, there was a free opera concert at the big pavilion, which on a random sidenote, was hilarious. There were tons of people on the grass watching, kids running around, people throwing footballs, not your usual opera crowd. We walked up onto this bridge to be able to see the show a little better and stopped for a few minutes. I could feel Adam looking all around (turns out he was trying to wait until no one else was on the bridge) and that's when he got down on one knee.

It was a perfect and beautiful moment and it happens like pretty much everyone says it will. I immediately burst into tears and I can't really remember what he said other than "Will you marry me?" to which I said "Of course!". We had a really quiet rest of the evening, called only family and had some champagne at a really nice bar on Michigan Avenue.

So, to answer a few questions.
1. Not getting married until next fall, 2010. I am hoping for October.
2. The wedding will be in San Antonio at my old church and reception who knows where?
3. I want Mexican food at the reception.

The ring is very me and absolutely perfect. It's diamond solitare set with six prongs on white gold (I hate platinum, don't ask me why, and apparently that was a source of dramatics at one of the jewelry stores he visited but I'm so glad he went with my instincts instead of some dumb saleswoman's). It really sparkles in the sunlight and it was so fun having it on my last trip because I got to run into some people that I'd actually flown with before and talk about it with them.

I can't wait to celebrate with everyone!

Running Log: Yesterday- 6 FAST miles, Today- 7 miles

Monday, August 3, 2009

This is pretty much why I've been running...

I have been wanting to post about the Lakefront Path for awhile now and yesterday the weather was nice enough to cooperate with me long enough to take some pictures.

This is about 2 miles in and the first time you can get a really good view of downtown. The tall one is the Hancock building, by the way.

The Lakefront Path is about 18.5 miles of marked running, jogging, bike trails from the farther Northside to the Southside of the city. There are tons of beaches along the way, beach volleyball courts, Lincoln Park runs right along the west side here at this point and Lakeshore Drive runs along the side.

Did you know there are beaches in Chicago? Because I didn't before I lived here.

Almost to downtown!

One of the harbors on the lake. This was my turnaround point last week on my 12 miler.
Beautiful downtown Chicago!

Depending on the routing I take, I usually go just past the Navy Pier.
As you can see, my runs are usually a place for awesome people watching and I never get bored on the Lakefront Path. It's awesome to just put my iPod on, jam out, and enjoy the awesome views that I get on the entire trail.

This is one of the mile markers that are throughout. I have a love/hate relationship with the markers. Somedays I'm so happy to see them, other days they taunt me!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


So a couple of days ago I was watching American Eats on the History Channel. I originally started with the soda episode and semi-watched the beer episode while on the phone with my Grandmother. After we got off the phone I was concentrating a little bit more and one of the "experts" said something to the effect of, "for years in America we had one beer, one type of bread and about three types of cheese. everyone ate relatively the same thing and we didn't have much to say about it."

That struck me as so interesting. Considering that I love unique, local, craft brews, I realized just how fortunate we are to have as many choices as we do today. I can walk out of the condo and within a mile in any direction there are hundreds of bars and restaurants for me to choose from. Even when you go to the grocery store, it's hard to find one now that doesn't have a phenomenal cheese section and rockin' bakery, not to mention the regular varieties in the dairy case or bread aisle. I'm so glad that we live in an era where the world is small enough for us to have such choices, both made locally and imported from around the world. Hey, I even find Big Red here in Chicago from time to time! That is amazing!

One of my favorite things about Chicago is the lack of chain restaurants. Really, there is only one Chili's that I can think of within city limits and there are no Olive Gardens or Applebee's. There are so many different mom & pop restaurants here that I constantly have a list going in my head of places that I want to try. There is also a huge BYOB restaurant population, which is fab for recessionistas like me. So, tonight I will raise my glass to Chicago for being an awesome city of not-chain-restraurant eating!